Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hot Gossip, silver jumpsuits, and the Legion

Continuing our theme of bizarre costumes today, if you thought Dawnstar wearing Dior was odd, check this out. Bearzbub was right:

Hot Gossip + blondie tune + silver outfits from the future + legion of super-heroes comic book = my mind blown

Here's a Youtube video of an 80s group called Hot Gossip. Think of your worst early 80s comic book costumes and think how they'd look on real people (kind of like old Legion transsuits, actually). Then think of them dancing to a Blondie song in a subway. And amidst all that, Bob Geldof is holding a Legion comic.

Click on the picture to watch the video.

Dawnstar, wearing Dior, in Vogue Magazine

Via Trendhunter and PopFi (two sites not often mentioned here):

The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC will be hosting a spring exhibit called "Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy." The show, hosted by Giorgio Armani, will open Wednesday May 7th and run through Sept. 1st. Some of the costumes are featured in the May issue of Vogue Magazine (who had this press conference in February). Among those costumes (loosely) inspired by super-heroes and super-villains are Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Dawnstar, and those not pictured include Superman, Batman, Punisher, Flash, Ghost Rider, Iron Man, and more. Read this press release (which actually sounds interesting) for more on teacher workshops, movie screenings, and other details. And of course, there'll be the traditional exhibition book.

UNEARTHLY ANGEL: The product of genetic engineering, Dawnstar has a pair of feathered wings. When the out-of-this-world heroine is in deep space, she can travel faster than the speed of light. And when she's in a custom sequined Dior Haute Coture dress, one look is enough to devastate any archnemesis.

I wonder what Greybird will think of this?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Careful how you use it, or you might lose it!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

New York Comic Con '08: day 3

Today's panel: Final Crisis.

CBR and Newsarama only mention that the Legion will be in one of the miniseries, the previously known Legion of 3 Worlds.

Newsarama reports that at the DC/Mattel panel:

The panel took a question about potential Legion of Superheroes figures, stating that they are still searching for the proper venue for these characters.

More on yesterday's Legion panel, from the DC message boards from poster "7thunders":
Paul said today at the con that people shouldn't blame John Byrne. There were many proposals for SUPERMANS revamp and Johns was picked. He said with books, big events happens and as a publisher its great for sales but as a writer it suck. AND HE SAID THAT! He said that often you have to work with what is given to you and that writers have to make a decision to either carry on with what you are given or pass it to someone else that might be able to do something with it. Supermans revamp was a bigger decision than people think and lots of writers had a proposal. The effect it had on the Legion wasn't perfect, but they had to work with it. The 50th Anniversary Panel with Levitz and Griffen was one of the best panels I've been to in over a decade age. They weren't bitter.. they weren't overly funny... they both spoke plain and honest and as two friends sitting together.

And in another message:
Anything would be better. the time... they were ordered "NO SUPERBOY" which is why Giffen had to do the Mordru change of perception in issue 4? 8? By the way .. Griffen did not want to talk about the question asked. He said: " No...lets not go there". It was Levitz that explained that there were many proposals for the SUPERMAN "New" story and that Byrnes was the most accepted and that John ( he called all creators by only their first names) was not to be blamed for the after affect. That it was the effect of any large crossovers that writers had to deal with. Again, he said, from a publisher view crossovers are great for sales...but as a writer it sucks and that he hated them as a writer.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

New York Comic Con '08: day 2 (update #2 with Legion panel news)

Today was the Countdown to Final Crisis panel and the Legion 50th Anniversary panels.

From Newsarama:
The Legion takes up the middle third of the cover to Final Countdown #1:

Johns discussed his current run of Action Comics, saying he'll be using Brainiac and that more will be touched on with the Legion of Super-Heroes. He reminded the crowd that James Robinson is taking over Superman in June, and the books will "begin to link up."

"Will there be one continuity for Legion of Super-Heroes"? Johns: "Can't tell you." Morrison: "We may have one, but there'll be 300 guys in it."

The panelists were asked to name their favorite member of the Legion of Super-Heroes? Johns said Lightning Lad was his favorite, and many picked Saturn Girl.

Via CBR:
A fan asked if after Final Crisis there will be just one Legion in continuity, to which Johns laughed, "You know I can't tell you that."

In the Legion Of Three Worlds #1, the Legion goes into the Phantom Zone to rescue Mon-El, and they meet General Zod. "And they fight," Johns said.

Via Wizard World:
Johns teased the following for his upcoming summer arc on Action: “We’ve got Brainiac coming up, and Multi-the Multi Alien, too. Gary Frank and I are setting our sights on Brianiac and hoping to make him scary instead of goofy. James Robinson comes on Superman in June, and the books are going to link up a lot more. We’re going to do more Legion stuff too.”

With Robinson's "Superman" and Johns' "JSA" and "Action", I wonder if we'll see more about Starman (Jack Knight) and Starman (Thom Kallor)?

As of this moment, only Wizard has the Legion panel. I'm not going to reprint the whole thing, but here are highlights. Levitz, Giffen, and current editor Mike Marts were the guests, and the panel was moderated by Peter Sanderson.
"The Legion came before the Justice League, Teen Titans and X-Men," says Sanderson. "It really deserves a lot of credit for creating the modern superhero team book."

Levitz gave props to former Legion writers Jerry Siegel, Ed Hamilton and Jim Shooter (who started at age 13 in the 1960s and recently took the Legion reins again). "Jerry Siegel brought a sense of humor, he kept the tongue firmly in cheek," Levitz said. "Ed Hamilton, one of the great sci-fic writers, brought in the space opera and first sense of scale. He brought The Legion to bigger scope and scale. Shooter brought a sense of character to the Legion; it's bizarre to have a 13-year-old have that sense of humanity."

There was the comparison to the X-Men: a teenage cast, diverse backgrounds and varying powers. But Marvel's mutants also forced change in the future team by creating a stronger sense of diversity through different cultures. Said Levitz: "A lot of early comics characters weren't even WASPs—they were WASs. They didn't even have the Protestant distinction. Then the [1970s] X-Men came along to give diversity and The Legion adapted well."

To Giffen, the Legion was "always about the price of heroism and that they're willing to pay it."

Over its 50 years, the Legion has been rebooted several times. The panelists were asked their thoughts on them. "I know one was great," Giffen deadpanned to audience laughter. (Giffen pushed continuity "five years later" in the late 1980s creating a darker vision of the Legion; it created much controversy.) "I knew I didn't want to spend a year deconstructing what Paul did, so I bumped it five years later, always planning to return it to what Paul did."

"It's like someone messing with your kids," said Levitz. "It's not that the next guys are wrong or less legit than yours. But these are your children. 'It's MY kid you gave the piercings to.'"

Giffen was called on the carpet for wanting to kill Legion stalwart Karate Kid; he helped kill him with Levitz in the mid-1980s and he also plotted the character's demise again recently in Countdown to Final Crisis. "I only agreed to do Legion so I could kill him," Giffen said. "If I go on it again, he's dead. Two words: super karate. Hey, everybody in the field has a character they hate. I just have the bad taste to say it out loud."

Marts elaborated on the Legion's immediate future. "Shooter has a very intricate plot coming up, perhaps even a wedding. And we'll have a major Legion-related project coming out toward the end of year."

To sum up, Levitz put the panel into perspective: "Legion does fairly well. It may not be the biggest seller, and yet this room is full of people who care about it, and it's delightful to have people give a damn."

Amusing anecdote from the Mysterious Cloaked Figure:
At one point, Levitz couldn't recall an issue number where he had a certain plot point, and an excited fan shouted out the specific number to the shocked creators. “Are...are you serious?” asked Giffen. “I...I think he's right,” said Levitz in amazement.

New York Comic Con '08: day 1

Friday was the DC Nation panel at the New York Comic Con.

Via Newsarama:

DiDio then said they've decided to do something "just for this group" in the panel room. He then asked the crowd who read 52 and was familiar with Rip Hunter and the Time Lords, leading him to say he's going to debut the "DC Nation Time Lords." A board, like Rip Hunter's in 52, came on the screen for 15 seconds with several cryptic sayings like "I am Batman?"

A fan asked if, in current DC continuity, Clark Kent wore a suit flying around Smallville, as Superboy - Johns said it'll be addressed and wait and see.

Over at Legion World, they point out that one of the things on the board is "1,000 / 3 = 1", suggesting that a single Legion will form out of the Legion of Three Worlds.

Newsarama also has some video interviews with Dan DiDio. In this one, he talks about Final Crisis, Legion of Three Worlds, & DCU #0.

CBR doesn't really have that much to add:
How big a part will Superman-Prime play in Final Crisis? "He goes into the 31st century in Legion of Three Worlds... and he kind of does his thing," Johns remarked.

Here's what's going on at the rest of the convention:

Saturday panels:
DCU: Countdown to Crisis
Sr. VP / Executive Editor Dan DiDio, VP / Sales Bob Wayne and Senior Coordinating Editor Jann Jones, Geoff Johns (Action Comics, Green Lantern), Grant Morrison (Batman, Final Crisis), Ethan Van Sciver (Justice League of America, Green Lantern), J.G. Jones (Final Crisis), Stephanie Roux (Birds of Prey), Gary Frank (Action Comics) and others for a panel that's not to be missed. The Sinestro War has passed, the Countdown is nearly over, and a Final Crisis looms! What lies ahead for our favorite heroes? Find out here!

Legion of Superheroes 50th Anniversary
Join the creators of Legion for a look back on 50 years of adventures and stories, moderated by comic book historian Peter Sanderson.

Sunday panels:
FINAL CRISIS - Grant Morrison
The Countdown is over and a Final Crisis looms. Only one man has the answers to this Universe changing event, and we've got him live for the hour! Join Grant Morrison, JG Jones and other special guests for this insider's look at the year's biggest event!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Annotated "Legion of 3 Worlds"; History of the DC Universe

Newsarama has an annotated version of the "Legion of Three Worlds" teaser (the one with XS). George Perez narrates.

I'm proud to say I'm geeky enough that I didn't need the annotations.

On an unrelated topic, this appears at the bottom of this Newsarama article discussing DC Direct figures based on the Wolfman/Perez "History of the DC Universe"):

NRAMA: Any hope here in the History line for Legion fans?

GB: Well they do appear in the book so anything is possible. I’d like to try a classic Legion line from the period known for the “Cockrum” costume designs. It is arguably the most requested Legion interpretation and if that didn’t work then there just isn’t enough of a market to support them.

Exit interviews

Now that the Legion series is over - your petitions won't do anything but make you feeld good that you signed up - producer James Tucker has been making the rounds doing exit interviews. Just as the creative team from "Teen Titans" and "Justice League Unlimited" moved over to "Legion" when those series ended, now the "Legion" crew is moving on to other things, including the "Brave and Bold" Batman series. Tucker is the producer of that one.

Here are some selected quotes from his exit interviews.

Via World's Finest Online:
The World's Finest: Hey James, first off, tell us a bit how Legion of Super Heroes came to be? There's been much gossip around the site concerning how this project originally got off the ground. Some say the Justice League Unlimited episode "Far From Home" acted as a back door pilot, while other sources say this was a project long in fruition. Care to finally clear the air on the origins of this series?

James Tucker: Let’s get the myths out of the way. The Legion series was never tied to the Justice League Unlimited episode. Supergirl was never, ever going to be in the Legion. The true origin of the series came out of Cartoon Network’s desire to have a Superman-centric series to premiere when the movie Superman Returns premiered. Superman as part of the Legion worked for them. So the series was originally developed for Cartoon Network, then they passed and Kids’ WB! stepped in. They, too, wanted a Superman-centric series with Superman fresh out of Smallville, learning to be Superman. That’s the reality.

WF: When starting off the series, what problems did you come up with when not only dealing with a beloved property, but one with such an immense cast? How did you end up with your main cast of characters.

JT: We went with the broadest we could find that would kind of replicate that Breakfast Club camaraderie that you find in teen movies. So we needed the neophyte, Superman, fresh from the farm to the new big school. We needed the smart girl -- Saturn Girl; the talky jock, Lightning Lad; the really smart nerdy kid, Brainiac 5; the amiable pal, Bouncing Boy; and we needed the James Dean outsider, Timber Wolf. Plus, we have Phantom Girl as the wise-cracking girl, non-popular girl that we all really like.

We threw in Triplicate Girl because we all fell in love with her when I did the first design. She’s the funky, hip chick. Chameleon Boy gave us the chance to freshen the lineup for the second season with a younger smart-aleck guy.

WF: In the second season, we were also introduced to the war-like Superman X. Why did you decide to not only bring in a new Superman clone, but also an older version of the Superman from the first season?

JT: That’s what the network asked for. Initially when we were pitching second season, we had planned to introduce a character that was like Superman’s older or twin brother. The network, rightly so, didn’t think it would pop. They wanted a super-up Superman. They didn’t care how we did it, but they wanted him to be more of a bad ass. For me, I didn’t want to alter our existing Superman that much. So along with Michael Jelenic, we came up with the clone from the future.

WF: Now we're heading into the finale of the series. First off, was the season finale written as a series finale? I imagine the end of LOSH came earlier than you expected. What surprises do you have in store for the fans for these final two episodes.

JT: It was written before Kids’ WB! was sold, so we didn’t know if it would be the season or series finale It wasn’t written as a series finale, but I think it works well as a series finale.

WF: Did you have a third season in the planning stages? What might the fans have seen if a third season was to come to pass?

JT: In the very early going, with just me and Michael planning, we went back-and-forth on potential ideas. We considered revealing and introducing Wildfire, Shadow Lass and a couple of others. And possibly the return of Ferro Lad’s twin brother.

Via CBR:
“We knew ['Legion' wasn't] coming back for a while, so I am kind of resigned to the fact,” Tucker told CBR News. “I have moved on because the Legion has been a distant memory as far as my actual day-to-day for quite some time now.”

Tucker revealed that Season 3 of “The Legion of Super-Heroes” would have further explored Brainiac 5’s journey to the dark side, a plot thread that ended in the show’s final episode, decidedly frayed. “Brainiac 5’s story is probably the only story that carried over from Season 1,” said Tucker. “The fact that we knew he could be potentially tempted by his ancestry. Part of the reason we made him robotic was because we wanted to tie him more heavily to the villain Brainiac. We made those adjustments so that it would be more of a logical progression to get him to be the darker character. Adam Wylie was great at voicing him. He really understood the character. He really brought out all the facets of the transition.”

In “Dark Victory” Part 2, after leaving the Legion in self-exile because he feels he can longer be trusted, Brainiac 5 is shown retrofitting himself with some space debris with the possibility looming large of a new beginning for the supervillain.

The series’ final words, spoken by Brainiac 5: “Evil does not die. It evolves.”

“We left it unresolved on purpose,” said Tucker. “This ending was going to bridge into the third season. And the way we leave it, Brainiac 5 has to redeem himself. So that’s what he would have been doing in the third season. When we left, he has a lot to clean up. I’ll put it that way!

“I don’t think it was a detriment having Kel-El be added to the cast because originally the idea we pitched to the network for the second season was to introduce Mon-El because they wanted a suped-up Superman,” explained Tucker of his 41st Century Superman clone. “And I said, ‘Well, we don’t really want to change Superman’s character from what we have established so it would be better to use Mon-El.’ Unfortunately Mon-El, in and of himself, is not an easy sell to an average, non-comic book reading fan. Even comic book fans, a lot of them don’t understand Mon-El.”

Tucker also had plans to introduce fan favorites like Wildfire and Dawnstar in Season 3. “And we have given some other characters the spotlight, like Blok. He’s a favorite of mine, and hopefully we would have given the girls more screen time,” he teased. “I had some plans for a Ferro Lad story too, where we would have introduced his twin brother.”

Tucker said it’s ironic as “The Legion of Super-Heroes” comes to an end, DC’s current comic continuity has embraced the original Legion, with the team enjoying runs in Brad Meltzer’s “Justice League of America” and Geoff Johns’ “Justice Society of America,” “Action Comics” and this summer’s miniseries “Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds.”

“It’s just with Legion fans, every one has a different era they prefer. You can’t please them all specifically, so I wish Geoff luck on that one.”

Tucker closed, “Now that we have de-virginized the American audience for the idea of the Legion, maybe somewhere down the line, some network will be open to giving it another shot. Maybe doing something a little more ‘older’ skewing. I actually grew to love the Legion even more through working on this series. Another reason that I am enjoying Geoff Johns’ run on ‘Action’ is because I recognized the traits and the characters. I felt like I honored the Legion even with some of the changes we had to make. And even though we didn’t get to hit on all of the fan favorites, we still captured what is the gist of the Legion.”

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Superman and Superboy lawsuit update

Jeff Trexler (of posted this weekend at Blog@Newsarama about a new ruling in the Superman case, fallout from the Action Comics #1 case.

The judge in the Siegel case has issued a new order pertaining to both the Superboy and Superman lawsuits.

The order in a nutshell:

–The parties are to spend the next 60 days negotiating a settlement.
–After the 60 days is up, the parties are to file a joint report on what happened.
–If they don’t settle, the trial in the Superman case is scheduled to begin on November 4, 2008.
–The court is setting aside ruling on the remaining issues in the Superboy case, along with setting the Superboy trial dates, until after the Superman trial is over.

Of course, being the Newsarama message boards, the comments quickly descend to the typical "The Siegels are greedy" stuff we've seen recently.

Go to the page to read more, and read the opinion here.

Blogroll update

Time to update the blogroll a bit.

For the Legion-centric blogs, two have gone silent (The Planetary Chance Machine and The Superhero Clubhouse). In their places, I'm adding Shanghalla, Paul and John Review, Francis Manapul's Art Journal 2.0, and of course, Blockade Boy.

Also, Superman Through the Ages is gone, so that's off the list, replaced with the Superman Homepage and ToonZone message boards for discussion of the Legion TV series (which, of course, is just over).

This is not a comprehensive list of blogs I like (which has a lot more), just a list of those that are dedicated to the Legion or have a significant component of Legion content. Let me know if I've missed any!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

New Johns, Perez interviews: Maximum Squee-age

CBR (in their new trade dress) has part 2 of a 5-part interview with Geoff Johns, whose Superman & The Legion story ended this week. But he's not done, of course, as we have seen in the promos for "The Legion of Three Worlds". Part 3 will cover his work on the JSA, so we should find out more about Starman there. Highlights (and go read it for more):

“It’s a dream to work with George [Perez], especially on Legion of Super-Heroes,” Johns continued. “And I think the title, ‘Legion of Three Worlds,’ says it all. We are going to have a ton of characters in this, so only someone as insane as George is going to tackle this. George has had a lifelong dream to work on the Legion. And I have had a lifelong dream to work with George. And I love the Legion of Super-Heroes, obviously.

The fan favorite writer summed up “Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds” as a big ‘”DCU story,” which has already earned itself the nickname “Crisis of the 31st Century” amongst DC’s editorial staff. Explained Johns, “It’s really focused on the Legion of Super-Heroes and Superman and where the Legion is going after the ‘Action Comics’ arc; where the universe is and how difficult it is for the Legion to do their job. And just as the Legion is facing this really big question of ‘Do they need us anymore? Are we doing any good? And people are like, ‘no,’ things go from bad to worse and Superboy-Prime shows up.”

Returning to “Action Comics,” next month’s issue #864 is an epilogue to the Legion arc and it deals with Batman, Superman and Lightning Lad. “It acknowledges everything that is going on right now with the Legion and pushes it forward and then wraps everything up so we can start ramping up to ‘Brainiac.’”

Maybe this time Batman will say something about having met a couple different versions of Karate Kid lately.

Meanwhile, over at Newsarama, George Perez talks about the upcoming book (complete with the pencils to one of the promo pages):

Newsarama: We talked to you way back in 2006 about your hopes of doing a Legion comic once you finished work on Brave and the Bold. Smart Newsarama readers could have just looked at our interviews with you to guess what you were doing next. Has this been in the works that long, or did it take them awhile to find the right Legion comic for you?

George Perez: Well, actually, after the first time I talked to them about it, Steve Wacker was still working at DC, and he was doing the Legion books. And there was talk about certain Legion projects. Some of that fell by the wayside once he left the company. But there were constant talks, and I thought the closest I was going to get at that point was drawing the Legion in Brave and the Bold.

Then Dan Didio told me all these plans for Final Crisis and that the Legion would be one of the sister books. One of the projects I wanted to do even when I was talking to Steve about this was a comic that collected all versions of the Legion. I thought that would have been a real joy. So when I found out it was the main focus of Legion of 3 Worlds, of course I said that has my fingerprints all over it without my even touching it. And Dan agreed, because I wanted to do it, but also because I'm one of the crazy guys who volunteers for one of these "cast of thousand" assignments. It was pretty much a done deal.

NRAMA: How long did you research, and what kinds of things were you researching, before you got started on the Legion project?

GP: I spent over a month getting together the number of references that needed to be gathered. Even then, it's still sometimes contradictory because the Legions have gone through so many changes that when they give me a specific request for a character, the references they send me might be contradictory to what the story calls for wherein a character's costume has changed.

NRAMA: Can you tell us what's on the cover?

GP: I literally drew the Legions of three worlds. There's the Abnett/Lanning Legion, the classic Legion that's been appearing in Action, and the current Legion that Jim Shooter is currently working from the original Mark Waid/Barry Kitson era. So all three Legions appear on the cover of issue #1.

NRAMA: That teaser image in Action Comics was pretty intense.

GP: Yeah! I had a lot of fun doing that. By the way, the inker on that, who hasn't been credited, is Scott Koblish. He's inking the series. The only thing I'm inking is covers. In fact, the last issue I did -- issue #10 of Brave and the Bold -- was incorrectly credited to Bob Wiacek inside. They've already apologized to poor Scott Koblish. But anything that is interior artwork for the Legion project will be inked by Scott Koblish. And it's amazing all that detail he puts in. Sometimes he even surprises me. Like in Brave and the Bold, there was a little shot of Superman, and even I didn't draw the insignia when it was that tiny. Well, it was in the inks when he brought it back. A man after my own heart.

NRAMA: When we had talked before, you had said you were a Legion fan when you were younger, right?

GP: Oh, yes. I was very much into it. That's one of the challenges. Of course I'm grateful that Geoff is using the classic version of the Legion as the main focal point in the first issue -- taking them from Action. Because it's like, while I enjoyed doing the Legion in Brave and the Bold, it was almost like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. There wasn't something quite right about them because they weren't the same Legion I grew up with. So there's one scene that I did get to draw some of the Legion in the 1980s version of the costumes -- not quite the originals, but then again, Mon-El hasn't really changed his costume all that much -- but getting to draw Matter-Eater Lad in his original green and black and yellow costume... those are the things I hope to be able to put into this story a bit more. It will probably deal with some of their history, so I'll get to draw some of the classic renditions of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

NRAMA: OK, I asked you who your favorite was when you were a kid. Who's your favorite Legion member to draw now?

GP: I like drawing Dawnstar. The wings are always a lot of fun to draw. And Shadow Lass. There's something about being able to play with the dark and light costume.

NRAMA: OK, we talked about your favorite Legion members. Since this mini-series also focuses on the villains of the 31st century, who are you favorite Legion of Super-Villains characters?

GP: I like the Fatal Five, but that's probably because there's more than one of them! And I like Mordru. He's charging in that first teaser page, so you already know he's going to be part of the Legion of Super-Villains. You know, there are villains in that charging scene who were not members of the Legion of Super-Villains originally. Mordru never was, and neither were the Fatal Five. So Geoff is trying to collect a bunch of villains under the banner of Legion of Super-Villains, with Lightning Lord and Cosmic King and Saturn Queen at the forefront, being the ones who are parallel to the founding members of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

I think I just squeee'd all over my keyboard.

Legion of Three Worlds: the missing panel (updated)

There's another interview with Geoff Johns over at CBR (part 2 of 5, this one covers the Superman/Legion story in Action comics) which I haven't read yet since I haven't read the last issue yet.

In the meantime, this section of the Newsarama interview caught my eye:

NRAMA: OK, let's go back here for a second. When The Lightning Saga was written, you knew this Legion of 3 Worlds story would eventually be told, right?

GJ: Yeah. There was actually a panel in Justice Society #6 that showed the Legions of all three worlds, but we cut it out because we didn't want to show the Legions together until we got to this project.

It was a flashback to the first time the three Legions met, and it was cut because we started planning on doing this. In my mind, they had met a long time ago as really young kids, once, and now they were going to have a second adventure together. So it was an adventure no one ever saw, but we removed the panel because we wanted to show those three Legions together for the first time in the actual Legion of 3 Worlds series.

NRAMA: That was leaked, wasn't it? I saw that original page somewhere online.

GJ: I think it was. I think it was on Dale's original page – the one that was sold. And that's fine. It's no big deal. Dale put so much energy into that so it’s nice people have seen it here and there.

Does anyone have a copy of that original artwork showing the first meeting of the three Legions?
Here's the panel in question (click to enlarge):

I agree with Geoff. It's a nice panel but having us not see the three groups in what amounts to a throwaway panel - love the three Brainys arguing! - makes the upcoming miniseries more special as that'll be the first time we see them together. Maybe it's artistic license, but the Post-Zero Hour team looks awfully young, younger than they looked in their own series. They all look about twelve years old.

Thanks for the picture, guys!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Legion of Three Worlds

Holy crap. I'm glad they released this info today and not yesterday, otherwise I might have thought it was an April Fool's joke. I think I might spontaneously combust. Newarama has the previews and interview with Geoff Johns his upcoming Legion miniseries with George Perez: "Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds". Part 2 of the interview is tomorrow. Coming in August: the first of five oversized issues. After reading this, I am stunned at the scope of this project. I'm in awe at what can be accomplished here and I'm amazed at the A-list talent that's on it. A top writer and top artist? The Legion, a tentpole book? Be still my heart. (I do feel sorry for those who are big fans of the v4-era, though. It looks like they'll get the shaft in how "their" Legion history is treated.) Preview image 1: Superman and the Lightning Saga Legion vs Superman-Prime and the Legion of Super-Villains. Not just the classic LSV, this one includes Mordru, Grimbor, Dr. Regulus, and the Fatal Five. Preview image 2: The same two groups as above... plus Luthor, the Time Trapper, and XS!

One of the two promised DC mini-series that will tie directly into Final Crisis, the Legion of 3 Worlds story will pull together the characters from three teams that have called themselves Legion of Super-Heroes during DC’s publishing history. And if we go by the teaser image, a slew of Perez-drawn Legion members will be fighting alongside Superman against a villainous threat in the future that will include a couple threats from the present as well – Superman-Prime and... is that Lex Luthor?

But three Legions? All together and all part of the DCU? What happened to the reboots where one Legion replaced the other? And for those readers who’ve never read any Legion stories, what do they have to know to understand this series? And what is Lex Luthor doing in that picture? Newsarama talked to Geoff Johns in a two-part interview to find out the answers to these questions and more...

NRAMA: Can you tell us the idea behind the story?

GJ: Again, it's Superboy-Prime teamed up with the Legion of Super-Villains, and he sets out to destroy Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes. But this is not just a Legion of Super-Heroes story. This is the DC Universe in the 31st century. This is the Crisis of the 31st Century. George and I are doing a huge DC epic from the point of view of the 31st century. All the main heroes throughout the DC Universe in the 31st century are there.

NRAMA: [laughs] So let's go back to the beginning of this idea of three Legions together. Has this been in the works for awhile? Even before you did The Lightning Saga, was the eventual goal for you to write a story about all three Legions?

GJ: The project came out of that. I really love Legion and I had planned to do something with them in Action Comics after The Lightning Saga to get them back into Superman's lore, because I think that's where they're strongest. And from that, Legion of 3 Worlds sparked. The story grew out of that, and at the same time, George was telling Dan that he wanted to do a Legion story, so it all just came together. And with what Grant was doing in Final Crisis, it all just clicked.

NRAMA: So, nothing's been wiped away by any crisis or time-altering event?

GJ: We find out really where all those "wiping aways" and the various plans throughout the universe and history were orchestrated – like when Superboy was found to be an imposter right after the first Crisis, and then when they were wiped away in Zero Hour – there’s a connection to all that stuff. Someone's been screwing with the Legion for a very long time.

This story is epic in its scope. It goes across the universe, all across Earth, across time and space. This is definitely one of the hardest stories I've tackled yet, but I'm ready for it.

NRAMA: Why hard? Do you think it's even harder than writing Infinite Crisis?

GJ: In a different way. With Crisis there was so much coordination and things that you had to set up for other books and carry through from other books, so it was difficult.

But this is difficult because it's the Legion. It's not Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. It's the Legion of Super-Heroes. So my goal is to have people cheering for these characters. Some people don't know the Legion yet. Some people don't see the value in the Legion yet. My goal is to have them cheering for them by the end of this. And if you already do know the Legion, you're going to cheer louder.

Go read it now, including the comments at the bottom. As wrong as the Newsarama posters got it on the Superman copyright lawsuit, they love this.

More on Mordru

Happy April Fool's Day yesterday. Hope you enjoyed both the easy trivia quiz and the story of Mordru.

Unless you were online about 10 years ago, reading the rec.arts.comics.* [RAC] usenet message boards or the LSH-L mailing list, the whole "Mordru's Vaudeville Career" thing was probably a little confusing (not to mention bizarre). I had that trivia quiz planned out for about 6 weeks, and one of the questions was going to be "name an incident from Mordru's Vaudeville career". Then I realized that while it was funny, most of my readers probably wouldn't get that joke, unless I put it another way, in its own post.

Basically, "Mordru's Vaudeville Career" was a running joke that started in late v4, in the mid-1990s. The references were most often made by Troy McNemar and Mike Chary, though plenty of others chimed in as well. Here's what we had in the Legion FAQ around 1999 or so, from Mike Chary:

In around issue 47 or 48 of v4, Mordru attacked a character named Devlin O'Ryan who had energy reflection powers with a mystic blast. Devlin begged him not to, fearing the energy would recoil and injure him. Mordru is the most powerful sorcerer in the universe. The blast did not, however, rip Devlin to shreds or short circuit Mordru, it merely knocked him on his can as though 'twere part of a lame Three Stooges bit. It was suggested that Mordru failed to execute this maneuver properly and that it merely proved Moe Howard was right to drop him from the act because Mordru lacked the timing to be a straight man. And thus was a career born.

Over time, various online fans "embellished" Mordru's vaudeville career, putting him at the forefront of television, interacting with various show-biz personalities, as a movie star, a singing sensation, a daytime talk show host, a rodeo clown, etc.

The only posts that are still available to the general public are the Usenet archives at Google. A search of "Mordru Vaudeville" brings up several dozen messages, which I copied, edited, and chronologized. Then I found some good IMDB links, some video clips (one of which is a Rickroll), and some pictures (thanks, Google Image Search!). And voila, an old meme is reborn, at least for a day.

Among those contributing to the "discussions" were Kevin Chang, Ben Weiss, Danny Sichel, Simon DelMonte, Jason Fliegel, Richard H. Whitten, David Bakas, Andrew Apold, Don Brinker, Tom Galloway, Chris Maka, Michael Kelley, Jonathan Miller (who comments here from time to time), David Goldfarb, and others. Hey, leave a comment here if you remember this "research project" we worked on back then. :)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Trivia Quiz #22

Sorry these are late, I usually get to them very early Monday morning, not late Monday night. Today's theme: stuff I've wanted to ask in previous quizzes but I already had enough questions. Ten of them today instead of the usual seven.

1. Which Legionnaire(s) appeared in every issue of "Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes"?
2. What is the main effect of Grandin Gender-Reversal Disease?
3. What is the main communications device of the Legion?
4. Rene Jacques Brande is better known by which initials?
5. What was Tenzil Kem's real name (Pre-Crisis)?
6. How long was the Five Year Gap? (Round up or down to a whole number.)
7. Pre-Crisis, what was Shrinking Violet's main power?
8. Which real-life person was Weisinger Plaza named after?
9. What symbol do members of the Dark Circle wear on their uniforms?
10. What letter is on the Legion flag?

Mordru's Vaudeville Career

Those of you who have been online since the mid-1990s will remember an ongoing research project we worked on from time to time, delving into the career of Mordru when he was in Vaudeville. The scope of the project eventually widened considerably, leading to discussions about his career and activities well into the 1990s. Most of the research was provided by Mike Chary and Troy McNemar, though others were able to find selected anecdotes. I dug into my archives to bring some of the interesting items.

Mordru was the top-selling Vaudeville act at Manhattan's Purple Pelican Club (long since closed) from 1925-34. No lesser luminaries than George Burns, Milton Berle, and Gabby Herkowitz praised his act. The man was a hit, and is still a model of comedic timing. Unfortunately, Mordru disdained the trend of feature motion pictures. He thought they were a passing phase and concentrated on his stage act. It proved to be a bad career move--almost as bad as his refusal to join Bob Hope's USO tour in 1942, which opened him up to some criticism.

Mordru, circa 1933

Mordru had a flourishing post-war career in the Catskills until his name was turned in to the HUAC in 1946. He was jailed for contempt of Congress because he wouldn't remove his hat. The only "bad timing" Mordru ever demonstrated was in joining the Communist Party right after the Berlin airlift (which some say was just a ill-timed publicity stunt) in 1948. He was not officially blacklisted, but had some troubles for a while afterwards.

Mordru tried to parlay his Vaudeville career into theatrical shorts. He auditioned as a replacement for Curly of the Three Stooges after Curly suffered a stroke in 1946, but Stooge Moe Howard picked his brother Shemp over Mordru. The winged hat that Mordru wore was a consolation present from Moe after Mordru failed the audition. (After Shemp died and was replaced by Joe Besser, Mordru once again tried to join the team, as he attempted to bribe Moe in 1958 for a spot in the line-up after Joe left.) Some thought that "The Two Stooges and a Magician" could have kept that act going well into the 1970s, while others thought that Mordru's vaudeville talents would have been wasted in the ensemble, though.

Mordru, as part of the "Vaudeville Legends" trading card set, 1950

Mordru was a fantastic Vaudevillian straight-man, though his television attempts (such as 1953's "Merry Mercilous Vaudeville Hour") never lasted. His attempts at screwball romance comedies in the 1950s were ill-thought out and should be ignored. "One Magic Moment" deserves a spot on the top 10 worst movies of all time. Mordru's true talent was on the stage where he could gauge his performance to his live audience (which, supposedly, is what Milton Berle is said to have admired most about Mordru).

Mordru's one-time partner Glorith - who often found herself wearing little clothing during their act - never really made the transition off the stage. She made one "B-Movie", a 1954 debacle called "Creatures on the Loose" (which later spawned a comic book series) famous only for the brief shot of Glorith topless. (She later claimed that was a body double). She later had a minor career in Branson.

He had a notable guest-starring role in a fifth-season episode of "I Love Lucy" (1956). The scene where he accidentally transforms Desi into a giant snail is a classic and often appears in clip shows.

Mordru and the cast of "I Love Lucy", 1956

In late 1961, Jim Backus and Mordru were on the Joey Bishop Show attempting a Vaudeville revival. It would have been his big break. Just before they were set to go on, some stage rigging malfunctioned and Mordru was buried under sandbags, and Backus had to go on with Bob Newhart as his straight man. The rest is history, with the first pairing of the two on a 1962 episode of the original Bob Newhart Show. Many years later, Backus' unofficial biographer excised a chapter about Backus' scheme to dump a mound of Earth on Mordru just before show time. Years before, Marilyn Monroe took a shine to Mordru and stood up an engagement with Backus. To get revenge, Backus planned to humiliate Mordru on national TV. Bob Hope had wanted the Backus/Mordru team for one of his TV specials and USO tours, and they were being courted by the Las Vegas Hilton to play as a lounge act. When Mordru flew the coop, the Hilton got Elvis and the King's career was reborn. I don't think Mordru ever forgave Elvis for that.

Mordru, backstage at the Bob Newhart show, 1962

Mordru found himself a bit part of the Watergate scandal in 1973. He was recruited by Charles Colson to magically erase 18 minutes of a White House tape, but he declined out of respect for the office of the Presidency. Mordru, who once entertained John F. Kennedy alongside the Rat Pack and even briefly considered running for mayor of Moosejaw, steered clear of all politicians and turned down the opportunity to perform at Jimmy Carter's Inaugural Ball with Ben Gazzara and the cast of "What's Happening" in 1977.

In 1975, Mordru was invited to appear on "Cowboy Wally's Western Rodeo Spectacular" as a rodeo clown. It worked out for him, so various rodeos around the country started inviting him to appear as a sort of guest clown. Sadly, one time a bull actually charged him, and Mordru blew it up with an eldritch blast, at which point the audience booed him and he turned them all into leeks, and it went down hill from there.

In 1976 he tried out for the Jack Tripper role on "Three's Company"; the girl auditioning for the Chrissy Sommers role (a 21-year-old Geena Davis) had to slap him twice and they had to call security to escort him off the lot. Mordru with a laugh track - can there be a worse fate for a Vaudeville great? He was also rumored to have had an affair with Bea Arthur around that time.

Mordru scored a television appearance appeared on the two-part "Legends of the Super-Heroes" in 1978, featuring The Challenge and The Roast. In "The Challenge", Mordru's big scene has him fleeing Batman while riding on a jet-ski. (See this YouTube video, about 3:00 into the clip.)

The "Roast" closes with a big song and dance number by Mordru, who favors the crowd with his personal rendition of "That's Entertainment!", with all-new, evil lyrics ("I think diseases are nice/A condition that's chronic/A plague that is bubonic..."), that is, until Batman brings out the comedy classic, the pie in the face. (See this YouTube video, starting at the beginning.)

In 1983, Mordru was inducted into the Vaudeville Hall of Fame. Introducing him was his first partner, "Doctor" Artie Mayavale, citing his "groundbreaking work in physical humour". The Vaudeville Hall inducted Mordru at its opening and still, to this day, its annual fund raising ball is called the Hat Ball. (The replica hat is behind only the seltzer bottle and a replica Groucho eyes/nose/moustache in gift shop sales.)

Statue of Mordru outside the Vaudeville Hall of Fame

In 1991, Mordru was supposedly arrested along with Pee-Wee Herman at an infamous movie theater. Pee-Wee got all the publicity, but Mordru was allegedly right there next to him. In an odd twist for most Hollywood rumors, this was actually started by Mordru's own publicity machine. At the lowest ebb that his career had ever taken, Mordru was hoping to drum up some exposure (no pun intended). Unfortunately, he couldn't even get the lowest of the tabloids to print the fake photos he made.

In 1993, Ken Burns did the definitive documentary on sock-making, 18 hours long. Paul Levitz narrated the middle 6 hours. Mordru financed that one with money he'd saved from his Vaudeville career. It was a tremendous money-loser and Mordru had to do some commercials for a while, including an American Express "Do you know me?" spot and the 1-800-COLLECT spot with him dressed as a leprechaun.

Mark Evanier and Peter David did a treatment for a Mordru variety series in 1996, originally to co-star Phil Hartman. The plans were scrapped with Hartman's death in 1998, as Hartman was considered the best foil to Mordru since the days of Mordru & Allen. Word has it that the centerpiece of the show was a segment called "Hat Trick" where Mordru would sing snippets of popular songs. Test audiences couldn't stop laughing at his rendition of the Spice Girls' "Wannabe." It's a shame because it finally soured Mordru on the TV business.

Mordru, 1998

Several years ago, Mordru hosted a series of late night infomercials plugging an eight holovid collection of his greatest Vaudeville acts. Many of these are home videos from his own private collection of early club appearances not available before then, ranging from the famous "Leeta-89" sketch to the infamous "Mysterious Missing Footnote" sketch (far from Mordru's best material). The "Graveyard at Dusk" sketch, however, was hilarious, though it was mostly material stolen from the Marx Brothers: "This morning I got up and enslaved the Legion of Super-Heroes in my pajamas. How they got in my pajamas I'll never know."

Ewan McGregor, rumored to be considering the part of Mordru in a murder mystery film set in the days of Vaudeville

Mordru has kept a low profile in the past several years, making a rare public appearance in Metropolis and another on Zarok. He's mostly retired, and lives in the April Fools Retirement Community outside of Miami.

Before and after: Mordru after Botox and some personal grooming